FRACTURED AIR

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Posts Tagged ‘Bella Union

ANNOUNCEMENT: Xylouris White (AUS/GRE, Bella Union) / DALI, Cork / Fri. 5th April 2019

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We are delighted to welcome back the legendary duo Xylouris White for a Cork show on Friday 5th April 2019. All details are below.

Fractured Air & Dali Live present:
Xylouris White & special guests
Friday 5th April
Doors 8PM (EARLY SHOW)
Dali
Careys Lane,
Cork

TICKETS: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/fractured-air-dali-present-xylouris-white-and-special-guests-tickets-57166586800

photobymanolismathioudakisstanding

Xylouris White (Jim White and George Xylouris)

Xylouris White is the inspired collaboration between Greek lute player George Xylouris and the Australian, Brooklyn-based drummer Jim White. Both composers are legends in their own right, the former through his Cretan lute-led sounds of the Xylouris Ensemble, the latter through his membership of mythical Australian trio Dirty Three and myriad collaborations over the years (Nina Nastasia, Cat Power, Bill Callahan, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, to name a few). Both have harnessed truly unique and unparalleled playing styles and levels of musicianship in their respective instruments where inspiration seems in endless supply at all times. Xylouris White create the kind of celestial, contemporary and powerful music which blurs all boundaries and constantly defies all categorization (and logic) in the process.

A passion for exploration comes naturally to Xylouris White, the ruggedly visionary duo formed of Cretan lute player George Xylouris and Australian drummer Jim White. For their debut album, 2014’s Goats, Xylouris White compared themselves to the titular animals, wandering fearlessly through rough-hewn terrain. Two years later, they showed how far their horizons could reach on 2016’s majestically expansive Black Peak, named after a mountain top in Crete.

Just 15 well-toured months after the band’s universally acclaimed sophomore full length ‘Black Peak’, the duo’s exploratory instincts drive them further onwards still on their third album, Mother, released last year on Bella Union, and named to denote “new life”. As Xylouris puts it, “Mother is the extension of Goats and Black Peak. Three things, all part of a whole. Goats are mothers, Zeus was raised on Amaltheia’s milk, Black Peak is Mother Earth… Mother Earth is the mother of everything.”

Across Mother’s nine tracks, Xylouris White nurture fecund growths from the spaces between their instruments. Sometimes the songs drive with an invigorating urgency; sometimes they brood, plead, yearn and lull. The duo seems to discover each other anew at every turn, teasing the songs out from their fluid chemistry with the kind of virtuosity that knows when to listen, accommodate and learn afresh. “A theme of the album is the significance of simplicity and a child-like approach,” Xylouris explains. “So, we connect mother and child and play instruments as toys. Xylouris White is still gestating.”

That ongoing gestation is a remarkable extension of already remarkable back-stories. Xylouris is a scion of one of Greece’s most revered musical families. His father is legendary singer and lyra player Psarantonis. Jim White, meanwhile, has commanded international attention for more than two decades as part of Australia’s Dirty Three. Now New York-based, White has often been called on to collaborate with numerous alt-A-listers (including: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, PJ Harvey, Cat Power and Smog), where he redeploys the rolling momentum of free-jazz to variously supple, sensitive and seismic ends. Most recently he performed with Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett on their acclaimed album “Lotta Sea Lice”.

https://www.xylouriswhite.com/

https://www.facebook.com/XylourisWhiteBand/

Credit+Manolis+Mathioudakis+DSC_4301.jpg+

 

 

 

 

Fractured Air & Dali Live present:
Xylouris White & special guests
Friday 5th April
Doors 8PM (EARLY SHOW)
Dali
Careys Lane,
Cork

TICKETS: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/fractured-air-dali-present-xylouris-white-and-special-guests-tickets-57166586800

https://www.xylouriswhite.com/

https://www.facebook.com/XylourisWhiteBand/

Written by admin

February 22, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Albums of the year: 2018

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Presented here is a list of our favourite (ten) albums from 2018. As difficult a task as this proved, we decided ultimately to choose the albums that we found ourselves turning back to time and again over the last twelve months. 

 

10. Earl Sweatshirt – “Some Rap Songs” (Columbia Records)

somerap-correct

Thebe Neruda Kgositsile, otherwise known as Earl Sweatshirt is a rapper, producer and DJ whose third studio album ‘Some Rap Songs’ was released last month to universal acclaim. The sublime hip hop voyage deals – in part – with the loss of his father, poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile.

“Me and my dad had a relationship that’s not uncommon for people to have with their fathers, which is a non-perfect one,” Earl wrote. “Talking to him is symbolic and non-symbolic, but it’s literally closure for my childhood. Not getting to have that moment left me to figure out a lot with my damn self.”

On the opening verse of the seductive dub groove ‘Shattered Dreams’, Sweatshirt asks “Why ain’t nobody tell  me I was bleedin’?” Masterful production and sun-blissed harmonies serve the rich ebb and flow of the cut’s gradual flow. The rapper pleads “Please, nobody pinch me out this dream” beneath the dreamy, hypnotic beats on the following line.

Memories of his father permeates throughout the lucid ‘Red Water’: “Papa called me chief/Gotta keep it brief” beneath stunning soulful  pop hooks. On the R&B inflected rhymes of ‘Nowhere2go’, the Los Angeles rapper explains the need to “redefine himself” and ultimately ‘Some Rap Songs’ finds Kgositile do exactly that.

The poignant ‘December 24’ is a menacing, slow brooding gem that places Earl’s poetic prose beneath cinematic piano tapestries. ‘On The Way!’ contains a sumptuous soul/funk groove. The tempo is slowed on the transcendent single ‘The Mint’ (featuring Navy Blue), another slice of pristine hip hop that serves a parallel alongside the likes of Madvillain and J Dilla such is its divine spell.

This compelling fifteen-track album reflects a hip hop artist that has further evolved and continually develops his unique and immense talents.

‘Some Rap Songs’ is out now on Columbia.

http://earlsweatshirt.com/
https://www.facebook.com/EarlSweatshirtMusic/

9. Marissa Nadler – “For My Crimes” (Bella Union/Sacred Bones)

for my crimes correct

Marissa Nadler, one of the most cherished songwriters of our time, returned with her captivating eighth studio album ‘For My Crimes’ last Autumn. The Massachusetts-based singer-songwriter has carved out eleven deeply affecting and soul-stirring sparse laments whose immediacy and emotional depth resonates powerfully throughout.

It feels as if the essence of the song is captured magnificently to tape wherein each beautiful folk noir exploration navigates the depth of the human heart with naturalness and ease. In contrast to the more polished and layered records that came previously (the magnificent ‘Strangers’ and ‘July’ LPs), Nadler’s intimate song cycles contain quite minimal instrumentation that crafts a hypnotic spell and striking intimacy (intersecting the sound worlds of Townes Van Zandt and Stina Nordenstam).

Nadler co-produced For My Crimes with Lawrence Rothman and Justin Raisen at Rothman’s Laurel Canyon studio, House of Lux. A stellar cast of incredible female musicians joined the recording sessions,  including vocals from Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten and Kristin Kontrol, Patty Schemel (Hole, Juliette and the Licks) on drums, Mary Lattimore on harp, and the great experimental multi-instrumentalist Janel Leppin on strings.

Some of the finest, most empowering songs of Nadler’s career is dotted across ‘For My Crime’s intense narrative. Emotive strings and meditative acoustic guitar drift beneath Nadler’s majestic vocal delivery on the windswept beauty of the album’s glorious title-track (and fitting opener). Nadler asks “Please don’t remember me/For my crimes” on the deeply moving, dusk-lit chorus.

The swell of electric guitar and drums create a post-rock grandeur on the sublime ‘Blue Vapour’: a raw energy is unleashed with each and every pulse. The hard-hitting impact of Nadler’s supreme songwriting gifts is distilled on the heartfelt lament ‘Dream Dream Big In The Sky’ which feels as if the words and music are somehow encapsulated in the faded dreams of the clouds above.

‘For My Crimes’ is out now on Bella Union/Sacred Bones.

https://www.marissanadler.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MarissaNadlerMusic/

8. Tirzah – “Devotion” (Domino)

tirzah-devotion.jpg

The year’s finest debut album undeniably comes from London-based songstress and producer Tirzah. The immense talents of this young artist can be felt throughout the album’s utterly contemporary and unique eleven songs. Steeped in R&B, soul and pop spheres, Tirzah’s fresh and alluring compositions very much belong to the here and now whose beguiling song structures forever push the sonic envelope. ‘Devotion’ is written and produced with composer and childhood friend Micachu with gorgeous pop sensibility and minimal production at the heart of the album’s gripping heart and soul.

The striking immediacy – and directness – of these songs makes a profound impact. The deeply affecting downbeat-soul of ‘Gladly’ is a delightful, heart-warming love song with hypnotic vocals and gradual beat. “All I want is you/I love you/Gladly, gladly, gladly” sings Tirzah on the breathtaking chorus. There is simplicity in the song (so it seems) but a complexity in the emotional connection. A gospel, R&B lament. ‘Holding On’ contains a quiet confidence and strength as the 80’s synth pop feel radiates throughout. Again, the minimal nature of these songs forges such deep emotions and colour.

The album’s towering title-track features guest vocalist Coby Sey with his soulful falsetto serving the perfect counterpoint to Tirzah’s understated voice and pristine beats. “So listen to me” is repeated like a mantra; reminiscent of James Blake’s downtempo creations. Tirzah sings “I want your arms” on a later verse, sung with such emotion and sincerity. This duet forms the vital heart of the album’s second half.

The guitar funk groove of the following cut ‘Go Now’ packs significant weight: “Don’t raise your voice to me” is sung in a delicate, near-hushed falsetto on the opening verse. Vulnerability is inherent in this breath-taking soulful lament. Acoustic piano patterns serve the sonic backdrop to the sparse ‘Say When’, brimming with melancholic shades of loss, “I felt you gone and now I am lost”.

Devotion’ heralds a significant new voice in contemporary music.

‘Devotion’ is out now on Domino Recordings.

https://tirzah.net/
https://www.facebook.com/TirzahMusic

7. Mary Lattimore – “Hundreds Of Days” (Ghostly)

Mary-Lattimore-Hundreds-of-Days

Having first discovered Los Angeles-based harpist and composer Mary Lattimore’s 2013 debut ‘The Withdrawing Room’ (released on Desire Path Recordings), each new release has been a hugely exciting discovery. On this year’s ‘Hundreds Of Days’ – and third release for the prestigious Ghostly label – Lattimore’s ethereal, dream-wave bliss of her harp-based compositions casts a spacious, luminescent and captivating sound world of unknown dimensions.

The gorgeous album opener ‘It Feels Like Floating’ feels just like that: the sacred harp tapestries drift in the ether of faded dreams amidst swathes of celestial harmonies. Utterly timeless. Jonsi’s Healing Fields remix is a fascinating re-interpretation that conveys the inspirational quality of Lattimore’s hugely unique and shape shifting compositions.

Guitar, keyboard and percussion is added on the poignant folk gem ‘Never Saw Him Again’: forging a dreamy pop opus from a past we have not yet quite arrived upon. The soundscapes and intricate layers continually build, as if reawakening some once-vivid memories of a loved one. The sparse ‘Hello From the Edge of the Earth’ maps the human heart and Lattimore’s love of the natural world. The lyrical quality of this piece is quite something to behold.

Baltic Birch’ blossomed from Lattimore’s trip to Latvia where she was struck by the abandoned resort towns along the Baltic Sea.  A desolate landscape is etched across the ambient soundscapes with the electric guitar haze recalling Lattimore’s collaborations with Jeff Ziegler.

The LA-based harpist – in much the same way as fellow contemporaries Julianna Barwick, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and so on – possesses the ability to transport you to an entirely new realm wherein the music becomes beautifully buried in the pools of one’s mind. ‘Hundreds Of Days’ is yet another gleaming treasure in the composer’s storied career.

‘Hundreds Of Days’ is out now on Ghostly International.

https://marylattimoreharpist.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/harpistmarylattimore/

6. Actress & London Contemporary OrchestraLAGEOS” (Ninja Tune)

lageos-main

‘LAGEOS’ is the utterly compelling, shape shifting debut full length release from renowned electronic producer Darren Cunningham (aka Actress) and the London Contemporary Orchestra. At the heart of this captivating record is both artists’ ceaseless fascination with sound wherein new pathways of discovery are forever attained.

The first traces – committed to tape at least – was last year’s beguiling ‘Audio Track 5’ EP. The divine title-track (which is also found halfway through the record’s second half) comprises of beautifully drifting strings that float amidst crunching percussive rhythms and piano patterns. The splicing of the various components creates a shimmering odyssey of rapturous, luminous soundscapes, where the abstract techno sphere is masterfully blended with modern classical elements. Importantly, lines become blurred throughout ‘LAGEOS’, one cannot pinpoint to any one musical landscape, for it is a far-reaching kaleidoscope of timbres, textures and tones.

LCO’s Hugh Brunt has described the collaboration as being “about exploring an ambiguity of sound that sits between electronic and acoustic spaces.”

It is a joy to discover new contexts and insights into the cherished Actress discography as classics such as ‘Hubble’, ‘N.E.W’ and ‘Voodoo PosseChronic Illusion’ become a deep stream of consciousness and energy flow. The meditative bliss of ‘N.E.W’ with an endless array of enchanting instrumentation, supplied by the LCO, flows deep into your veins. The irresistible cosmic groove of ‘Voodoo Posse’ serves the record’s fitting penultimate track before the joyously empowering ‘Hubble’s techno fueled odyssey maps one’s innermost fears and dreams.

‘LAGEOS’ is out now on Ninja Tune.

https://www.ninjatune.net/artist/actress
https://www.lcorchestra.co.uk/

5. Low – “Double Negative” (Sub Pop)

low_doublenegative

The much beloved Minnesota trio sculpted one of their finest, most empowering works to date with ‘Double Negative’, released earlier this year on the Seattle label Sub Pop. In similar fashion to 2015’s ‘Ones and Sixes’, the band enlisted B.J. Burton (James Blake, The Tallest Man on Earth) for production duties but here, the dazzling experiments are developed much further, forging deeply moving collages of cinematic, charged rock odysseys that seep into one’s very own consciousness. Abrasive beats and dazzling electronic components melt alongside Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk’s heavenly – soul searching – harmonies and Neil Young-esque guitar echo and reverb.

A dark undercurrent permeates throughout the record, reflecting these dark, uncertain times we find ourselves in. The brooding and hypnotic ‘Trying To Work It Out’ is classic Low with the slowcore bliss of Sparhawk’s highly emotive vocal delivery: “I saw you at the grocery store/I know I should have walked over and say hello/It seemed like you were in a hurry/I didn’t want to slow you down/So I figured out I should let you go.” Dissonance abounds. In many ways, the record serves a parallel with Nick Cave’s latest ‘Skeleton Tree’ – both records are borne out of a sea of darkness and despair but both records ultimately possess an incalculable empowering capability.

The delicate beauty of the meditative ‘Always Up’ is a precious ballad that depicts the frustration dispelled by the world today. The chorus refrain of Mimi Parker’s angelic vocal delivery “I believe I believe I believe I believe/Can’t you see Can’t you see Can’t you see?” emits a cathartic energy flow that is steeped in an unfathomable beauty. Rawest of emotions flood out of these recordings, feeling both vital and colossal in equal measure.

How the songs fade into one another is another marvel of ‘Double Negative’: the multi-layered textures and static that envelopes the space; creating something considerably larger than the sum of its parts. ‘Fly’ is one of the album’s most stunning moments with its Mimi Parker-led soulful dimension “Leave my weary bones and fly” is the deeply affecting chorus that reduces you to tears upon each visit. How the infectious bass groove melds with Parker’s falsetto leaves you dumbfounded such is its unwavering beauty. Uncertainty breathes heavily throughout. But there is hope buried deep in its gorgeous soulful strut.

‘Double Negative’ is out now on Sub Pop.

https://www.chairkickers.com/
https://www.facebook.com/lowmusic/

4. Djrum – “Portrait with Firewood” (R&S Records)

djrum portrait

UK producer Felix Manuel (AKA Djrum) is responsible for one of the most poignant, soul-stirring electronic records of the year with his R&S debut full-length ‘Portrait with Firewood’. The wide range of sounds – everything from modern classical and ambient soundscapes to gripping techno and dubstep flourishes – is one of the hallmarks of this remarkable tour-de-force. The emotional depth of Manuel’s electronic works is perhaps the most alluring trademark of Djrum’s scintillating sonic voyage. For example, the intoxicating electronic-infused classical opus ‘Blue Violet’ (one of the most mind-bending tracks of 2018) unleashes a timelessness that is all too rare in today’s dance music. Analog synths and strings are masterfully woven together amidst beautifully cinematic spoken word segments. “Do you remember how you told me about lightning striking? All of those things you told me to wait for?” is softly uttered by a female voice, beneath meditative piano notes. ‘Blue Violet’ details love, passion, obsession and all points of the human condition – the spirit of Nils Frahm and Jon Hopkins radiates throughout this towering composition.

Waters Rising’ sees Manuel collaborate with vocalist Lola Empire, crafting a beguiling soulful R&B techno gem. Several of Djrum’s piano improvisations serve the initial sketches of these compelling explorations. Techno bliss is etched across the album’s central tracks ‘Creature Pt 2’ and ‘Sex’; the latter fusing introspective piano and violin motifs and intoxicating techno/jungle beats (further highlighting the boundless nature of Djrum’s enveloping sound).

Describe by Djrum as a “confessional record”; the melancholic shades come to the fore on the record’s final third. The highly immersive ‘Sparrow’ is one of the record’s defining moments wherein a spoken word segment floats majestically beneath intricate layers of jazz inflections: “I’ll show you my scars/You show me the stars”. A rich poignancy is inherent in each of ‘Portrait with Firewood’s luminous musical works.

‘Portrait with Firewood’ is out now on R&S Records.

https://djrum.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DjrumMusic/

3. Penelope Trappes – “Penelope Two” (Houndstooth)

penelopetwo

London-based artist Penelope Trappes’ sophomore full-length ‘Penelope Two’ – and follow-up to her essential debut ‘Penelope One’ for Optimo Music – casts a hypnotic, luminous spell through its stunningly beautiful song cycles: drenched in reverb that somehow drift into the ether of our innermost fears. The stark intimacy of the Australian-born composer’s compositions is what strikes you immediately; evoking the timeless spirit of early 4AD artists (This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins) and kindred spirits of Grouper’s Liz Harris and Tropic Of Cancer.

On the album’s gripping centrepiece ‘Maeve’, the chorus refrain of “let go” is repeated beneath delicate piano chords and lucid guitar haze. I feel ‘Penelope Two’ becomes a process of letting go: to allow the waves of anguish and pain wash over you and, in  turn, to wrap your troubles up in dreams. The raw emotion distilled in Trappes’ soaring vocals casts infinite rays of solace and hope as light flickers from within the depths of darkness.

The way in which the drone infused ambient instrumentals (‘Silence’; ‘Kismet’; ‘Exodus’) are masterfully interwoven with the vocal-based song structures (‘Connector’; ‘Burn On’; ‘Maeve’) creates one cohesive whole of staggering beauty and emotional depth. The ethereal dream pop gem of ‘Connector’ possesses endurance to overcome the darkness. The immaculate production and divine soundscapes immerses the listener inside a wholly other realm. The chorus refrain “I am the connector” epitomizes the magical, far-reaching qualities of Trappes’ immense songwriting prowess.

‘Penelope Two’ is out now on Houndstooth.

https://penelopetrappes.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/penelopetrappes/

2. Julia Holter – “Aviary” (Domino)

aviary

The peerless Los Angeles songwriter and composer Julia Holter has long been carving out the most ground breaking and breath-taking avant pop masterworks and this year’s ‘Aviary’ reveals an artist at the peak of her powers. The album’s enthralling fifteen compositions explore further into bewitching experimental terrain as an abstract canvas of vivid textures, colour and timbres ascend into the forefront of one’s heart and mind.

The immaculate instrumentation and mesmerizing arrangements – a constant throughout Holter’s cherished songbook – lies at the heart of these stunning song cycles. The epic ‘Chaitius’ opens with gorgeous orchestration of strings, brass and choral lines that conveys the kaleidoscopic vision of the American composer’s newest musical venture. These sprawling, vast pieces feel as if the soundscapes could glide forever into infinity (and beyond). Holter sings “Open my wings with joy” on the opening verse; conveying the artist’s search for love and solace “amidst all the internal and external babble we experience daily”. The way the composition evolves and develops is akin to a process of self-discovery or acceptance. The vocoder/spoken word segments emits such rich imagery that reflects “the melting world” of today’s chaotic world we find ourselves in. Euphoria and an awakening sensation abounds on the glorious crescendo of Holter’s trusted ensemble (double bass as ever adding seductive rhythmic pulses to the sacred sound worlds effortlessly created). The continual striving for direction never feels far away: “Who will tell me what to do? Don’t say to feel so alove.”

It is clear with ‘Aviary’ that Holter effortlessly delves deeper into experimentation with sound; perhaps the first cue for the song’s inception was a sonic idea during the music-making process. The hypnotic, meditative lament ‘Voce Simul’ begins with a cosmic jazz bassline groove beneath Holter’s hushed vocal delivery and ethereal trumpet lines. The spoken word passages are masterfully blended with this cinematic backdrop: “I was just about to go outside” utters Holter on a later verse – inviting the listener on a wholly unique journey. As ever, the past and future become masterfully placed together – at once akin to “a distant mirror” of “a hundred minds” as Holter asks “How did I forget I’m part of the dust?”

The lead single ‘I Shall Love 2’ combined with its sister song – and symphonic rejoice – ‘I Shall Love 1’ form integral components of each half of ‘Aviary’s striking narrative. The former is yet another pristine pop oeuvre with gorgeous melodic flourishes and an awakening of the senses. The song’s deeply empowering rise “That is all that is all/There is nothing else” is a joy to savour; I visualize the moving scenes of the guiding angels in Wim Wender’s ‘Wings of Desire’ who listen to the thoughts of its human inhabitants. In a similar fashion, ‘I Shall Love’ (both movements) offers comfort and warmth.

The soaring beauty of ‘Words I Heard’ is steeped in 60s pop grandeur and Laurel Canyon pop perfection. How Holter’s achingly beautiful voice blends with the strings evokes a dream within a dream; a labyrinth of ancient and modern times – transposed to one sprawling, poignant canvas. The creative process is beautifully articulated on the fitting album closer ‘Why Sad Song’: “Oh ideas, Idea – oh why the words are made of?” But it is the dazzling, contemporary pop tour-de-force ‘Les Jeux To You’ that illustrates just how far ‘Aviary’s journey takes you on. The playful use – and richness – of words combined with the futuristic pop backdrop carves out something wholly unique and otherworldly. The deeply moving quality of Holter’s sacred artistic works is forever etched in the song’s gripping foundations: “I can hope for it today/I wonder though, if my heart tells me everything I need.”

‘Aviary’ is out now on Domino Recordings.

https://juliaholter.com/
https://www.facebook.com/juliashammasholter/

1. Nils Frahm – “All Melody” (Erased Tapes)

nilsfrahm-allmelody

Our most cherished record of the year undoubtedly comes from world-renowned, Berlin-based composer Nils Frahm’s latest masterpiece ‘All Melody’.

The immense beauty – and immensity – of the far-reaching soundscapes dotted across “All Melody’s musical landscape is a joy to savour. A myriad of sacred tones are effortlessly spliced together like that of the double helix pattern of each DNA molecule found inside our cells. It is as if a towering composition like “Sunson” unfolds, mutates, and transforms before your very eyes: the soaring juno synthesizer is melded gorgeously with the otherworldly sounds of the handmade pipe organ. The seamless array of colours and textures creates an empowering ripple flow of emotions. Choral odysseys dissolve into this vast sea of forgotten dreams. As the piece continually builds, the interlinked rhythms are forever over-lapping; magical moments within moments are captured at each and every pulse.

Modern-classical, dub and avant pop spheres are masterfully blended together on ‘A Place’. The inner dialogue between the components (choir, strings, percussion, synthesizer, and rhodes) creates a deeply bewitching symphony of celestial sounds. How the female voice is mixed with the luminescent juno synthesizer provides a significant milestone in “All Melody’s mind-bending oeuvre. Gripping dub beats awash with soul-stirring strings. The sonic terrain has expanded, almost exponentially. It feels as if a deep symbiosis exists between all of its vital elements; each one inter-dependent of one another, reacting, breathing and growing as the loop drifts forever into the ether of unknown dimensions.

The possibilities are endless. “#2” fades in – almost subliminally – as the embers of “All Melody” gradually dissolve. Techno bliss is masterfully etched across the sprawling canvas of synthesizer arrangements, creating, in turn, psychedelic dreams orbiting the furthest reaches of one’s inner consciousness.

The album’s penultimate track “Kaleidoscope” conveys the visionary nature of Frahm’s music: the pattern of the interwoven elements (choir, organ and synthesizer) is constantly changing; forever in motion and altering in sequence (in turn, generating endless possibilities). The immaculate exploration feels at once ancient and utterly contemporary; a joyously uplifting creation with its dazzling ebb and flow akin to a river finding its sea.

All Melody” is a defining record for the ages. This is a journey into sound.

‘All Melody’ is out now on Erased Tapes.

http://www.nilsfrahm.com/
https://www.facebook.com/nilsfrahm

Guest Mixtape: Two Medicine (Bella Union)

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To celebrate the release of Midlake bassist Paul Alexander’s debut solo album (under his Two Medicine pseudonym), the U.S. songwriter and musician compiles a stunning hour-long mix merging pop, tropicalia, folk, krautrock, and psychedelic spheres of enchanting sounds. Having played a key creative role in the recording of John’s Grant’s new album, Love Is Magic, Alexander will be joining his labelmate on his European tour this Autumn. Two Medicine’s debut record ‘Astropsychosis’ is out now on Bella Union.

twomedicine_mixtape

Last month saw the eagerly awaited debut solo album from Midlake bassist Paul Alexander. Under his Two Medicine moniker, Alexander crafts immaculate psych pop odysseys that navigate the hidden depths of the human heart. In a similar fashion to his Denton prog folk outfit of Midlake, Two Medicine’s songbook is at once wholly familiar and mysteriously unknown: sparse folk songs drift across the ether of Laurel Canyon and divine pop spheres dissolve across vast skies of Beach Boys grandeur. Like any remarkable record, the sounds captured on tape somehow permeates deep and far: forever delivering new meaning and rare significance.

As Paul explains, one key to its secrets lies in the project name’s nod to a national park in Montana:

“Two Medicine is a majestic place, without spoil. The land was ceded to the nation by the Blackfeet tribe. They were likely coerced into the deal, like most of the tribes who gave away their land. It is wild, humbling and probably collateral for the nation’s debt, where an inevitable capitulation looms. Beyond its geographical location, to me, the name Two Medicine represents a summation of this irony, whether created or inherited by the people of the United States.”

The stunningly beautiful lament ‘tmrw’ traces the lineage of those early 70’s folk masterworks of Vashti Bunyan or Bert Jansch. On the opening verse, Alexander sings “I got a call today/It’s curtains for the sparrow” beneath a soft strum of acoustic guitar. Quiet solace surrounds the melancholic shades of the fading dusk light.

The album’s title-track conveys the luminous space and artistic brilliance of Two Medicine’s debut full-length with reverb-laden piano notes and dazzling rhythmic pulses (akin to the era of The Band’s timeless ‘Music From The Big Pink’ LP). Alexander’s solo journey has only just begun.

 

Two Medicine – Fractured Air Mix – December 2018

01. Isao Tomita“Passepied – Suite Bergamasque, No.4” [RCA]
02. David Shire“Orange Light” [La-La Land Records]
03. The Magnetic Fields“Epitaph for My Heart” [Domino / Merge]
04. George Jones“The Race is On” [United Artists]
05. The Flying Burrito Brothers“Sin City” [A&M]
06. The Byrds“You Ain’t Going Nowhere” [Columbia / CBS]
07. Caribou“Melody Day” [City Slang / Merge]
08. Amon Düül II“Cerberus” [Liberty]
09. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard “Melting” [Heavenly Recordings]
10. The Valerie Project“Grandmother” [Drag City / Twisted Nerve]
11. The Incredible String Band“The Water Song” [Elektra]
12. Os Mutantes “A Minha Menina” [Polydor]
13. Novos Baianos“Brasil Pandeiro” [Som Livre, Mr Bongo]
14. Tinariwen“Mano Dayak” [Independiente]
15. Department Of Eagles“Phantom Other” [4AD]
16. The Cure“Plainsong” [Fiction]

‘Astropsychosis’ is out now on Bella Union.

http://twomedicineband.com/
http://bellaunion.com/

Written by admin

December 17, 2018 at 12:27 pm

Step Right Up: Two Medicine

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One constant throughout the process was an expectation that the sound and feeling be something I desired to listen to repeatedly.”

—Paul Alexander

 Words: Mark Carry

two medicine pic

Last month saw the eagerly awaited debut solo album from Midlake bassist Paul Alexander. Under his Two Medicine moniker, Alexander crafts immaculate psych pop odysseys that navigate the hidden depths of the human heart. In a similar fashion to his Denton prog folk outfit of Midlake; Two Medicine’s songbook is at once wholly familiar and mysteriously unknown: sparse folk songs drift across the ether of Laurel Canyon and divine pop spheres dissolve across vast skies of Beach Boys grandeur. Like any remarkable record, the sounds captured on tape somehow permeates deep and far: forever delivering new meaning and rare significance.

If ever a lyric epitomized the spirit of a record it’s the gorgeous chorus refrain of lead single ‘Gold’. Alexander sings “If you dig this gold/It’s all you wanted and more” beneath crystalline synthesizer motifs and a seductive bass groove. ‘Astropsychosis’ becomes a journey of self-exploration, infiltrating the forests of one’s mind, desires and dreams. A sacred dimension is effortlessly – almost innately – tapped into here; as the songs inhabit the forest space (in which Two Medicine’s title blossomed from).

The glorious opener ‘SF’ contains rich psychedelic textures and sumptuous guitar tones that meld beautifully with Alexander’s heartfelt vocal delivery. Layers of shimmering vocals and electronics form a dense haze, evoking the spirit of Scandinavian groups – and kindred spirits – Efterklang and Dungen.

The stunningly beautiful lament ‘tmrw’ traces the lineage of those early 70’s folk masterworks of Vashti Bunyan or Bert Jansch. On the opening verse, Alexander sings “I got a call today/It’s curtains for the sparrow” beneath a soft strum of acoustic guitar. Quiet solace surrounds the melancholic shades of the fading dusk light.

The album’s title-track conveys the luminous space and artistic brilliance of Two Medicine’s debut full-length with reverb-laden piano notes and dazzling rhythmic pulses (akin to the era of The Band’s timeless ‘Music From The Big Pink’ LP). Alexander’s solo journey has only just begun.

‘Astropsychosis’ is out now on Bella Union.

http://twomedicineband.com/
http://bellaunion.com/

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Interview with Paul Alexander (Two Medcine/Midlake).

 

Congratulations Paul on your stunningly beautiful Two Medicine debut solo record, it’s a real pleasure to ask you some questions. Firstly, please describe this public park in Montana – in which your project name I believe was taken from – and the source of inspiration nature and this particular place’s history seeped into the songs make up?

Paul Alexander: Thank you for the kind words. Two Medicine is an area with immense, mountainous valleys and glacier fed lakes in the southeastern corner of Glacier National Park. I’m sure I’m no different from most folks who visit, the place makes an impression. There is something daunting and a bit foreboding about it, as if the mountains know your thoughts. I think similar feelings found their way into the songs for sure, directly and in metaphor.

The majestic harmonies, immaculate production and pristine instrumentation are just some of the hallmarks of this formidable record. I get the impression the making of ‘Astropsychosis’ was an incredibly liberating experience? I would love to gain an insight into the record’s inception and over what time period have these songs been blooming into life?

PA: Thank you. The record was written and recorded over a 15 month period, beginning in early 2016 and ending the spring of 2017. I had a few ideas when I started, but the majority of the material was written and arranged in the studio. At the time, I had sung a good amount of backing vocals, but had never been the main vocal, so it was definitely a stroll into the unknown! I half expected the project to be abandoned, not knowing if my writing would be strong enough to warrant the energy required to finish. In hindsight, it has been quite liberating, but the process itself was often overwhelming.

A truly timeless pop sphere permeates the headspace throughout the record’s nine tracks, echoing shades of Midlake but also beautifully navigating new sonic terrain. Did you have specific reference points (be it studio albums or feelings or colour) in terms how you envisioned this record (from the outset)? What were the most challenging aspects to the creation of ‘Astropsychosis’? 

PA: Initially, I was imagining a blend of Pet Sounds with late 80’s/early 90’s shoe-gaze/dream-pop. I’m not so sure that’s really what has emerged, but it’s the world I was looking towards at the time. Most of the songs started on acoustic guitar and I tend to stack vocal harmonies, so I suppose a kind of dream folk was always hanging around, for better or worse. The project was largely a solitary endeavor, so the hardest part was to not get swallowed up in a world of minutia.

Life’s fleeting moments feel distilled on the album’s captivating title-track. ‘Gold’ is a timeless pop gem, a song I feel I have known all my life. The seductive groove to ‘SF’ is divine. But I love how the darker lyrical content is effortlessly placed beneath these pop motifs and intricate arrangements. Can you shed some light on your song-writing process and indeed if some of these songs proved much easier/quicker to write than others?

PA: Thank you. Honestly, I don’t have much of a defined process, especially since these are some of the first songs I’ve written. I tried a few approaches, yet there wasn’t much rhyme or reason to why one thing would work or another wouldn’t. One constant throughout the process was an expectation that the sound and feeling be something I desired to listen to repeatedly. Sometimes, I just didn’t think an idea was very good after I took a step back. At that point it didn’t matter how hard I had worked on it, I didn’t hesitate to find the delete button.

I suppose that most songwriters and composers can write quickly, but getting something I was willing to show others proved to be difficult. ‘Oblivion’ was probably the easiest from a composition standpoint, I had the core ideas in a few days and the arrangement came quickly compared to other songs. The synthesis aspect also developed quickly on that one, which was great. Every song developed in it’s own way, but that is mostly down to working solo, as I can only record one part at a time.

Please describe your studio set-up, a space you must be well acquainted with from Midlake recordings? 

PA: Eric Nichelson from Midlake acquired the bulk of the old recording equipment and the studio where we recorded AntiphonCourage of Others & John Grant’s, Queen of Denmark were also recorded on the same gear, but in a different studio. He was very kind to give me access throughout the entirety of the process, all I had to do was work off hours. It was a luxury for sure, as it was the only system I really knew at the time. The system is Radar, which is a bit different from the DAWs people usually use. You have to have a console and outboard, as it kind of works like a tape machine but records to a drive. It was one of the best opportunities of my life, to sit down with equipment I knew well and focus on being creative on my own ideas.

Please take me back to some of your most cherished memories with Midlake and making music together within this special group of musicians? 

PA: I really enjoyed our first Glastonbury, on the Park stage in 2010. It was a pretty great moment for us to be back on tour after the challenge of making Courage. The Glastonbury crowd was very gracious and made us feel like we belonged up there. Roundhouse in London the same year with John Grant and Jason Lytle was also really special. Speaking of John, making Queen of Denmark was a total blast. He wasn’t as well-known as he is today, but we all were really excited about his music and were super stoked to be a part of it. The Trials of Van Occupanther was a great record to be a part of, though very challenging to make. We often struggled in the studio, with lots of labor in delivery room. There were some nice times with Tim, the moments when I knew he loved what he was hearing. I think making the title track was one of those. The song was blowing us all away, then McKenzie and I started up the tape machine and got the bass and drums in a take, we knew it instantly.

A deeply spiritual and cosmic realm is wonderfully inhabited in this solo work of yours. Can you recount your memories of the recording process – and musical guests that guested on these sessions? Did you have this batch of songs fully formed in your mind prior to these sessions? 

PA: Making this record was arduous and cathartic, and I started it with so much doubt. The first 3 months were slow, I was getting a lot of sketches down but nothing had truly materialized into something I was confident in. One week, ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Kuopio’ both took really big steps almost simultaneously. I was really excited and sent them to Simon. He wrote back, was very encouraging and basically said, ‘I’m digging it!’ That had to be the biggest ‘wind in the sails’ moment. Eric Nichelson played some really nice guitar for me on a couple of tunes and my buddy Evan Jacobs played keys on another. Another big hat’s off to the great Matt Pence, who played all the drums and was basically my therapist during mixing.

‘Astropsychosis’ is out now on Bella Union.

http://twomedicineband.com/
http://bellaunion.com/

Written by admin

December 13, 2018 at 3:38 pm

First Listen: ‘Cloisters’ by Charlie Coxedge

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The track is called Cloisters, and the video really suggests those different spaces, both hidden and open, obvious and subtle, that we ourselves, as well as our surroundings, create.”

—Charlie Coxedge

Words: Mark Carry

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The exclusive music video premiere of ‘Cloisters’ displays the sublime guitar-based, solo instrumental work of Money guitarist Charlie Coxedge. Directed by Dan Jacobs (who also directed the gorgeous Money single ‘Bluebell Fields’ depicts slowly fading background colours whose shadows and rich textures create a wholly meditative, far-reaching effect. The gradual bliss of pristine guitar tones gently shimmer, echo and seep into one’s heart and mind, akin to the ebb and flow of ocean waves. The stunningly beautiful new track ‘Cloisters’ is the title-track of Manchester-based Charlie Coxedge’s forthcoming debut solo EP, coming out on Bella Union (26th May 2017).

Previously, we were thrilled to premiere Coxedge’s solo guitar work Corrour’, a divine instrumental that continually builds – and evolves – beneath intricately layered guitar tapestries. The six-track ‘Cloisters’ EP contains ‘Corrour’ in addition to the deeply immersive piano lament ‘Holly’ (as the fitting finale), the sprawling, monumental guitar work ‘Be’, a duet for piano and guitar (the achingly beautiful ‘Pentreath’) and joyous rhythmic pulses of ‘Dust’. In similar fashion to Julianna Barwick’s looped harmonies or Peter Broderick’s songbook, Coxedge’s debut solo work achieves complete transcendence with its stunning beauty and captivating spell.

 

 

‘Cloisters’ by Charlie Coxedge

Video by Dan Jacobs

‘Cloisters’ EP is released via Bella Union on 26th May 2017

To Pre-order ‘Cloisters’ EP:

https://bellaunion.greedbag.com/buy/cloisters-0/

https://www.facebook.com/bellaunionrecs/

https://www.facebook.com/moneybandofficial/

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Interview with Charlie Coxedge.

 

Congratulations on the utterly captivating solo guitar works of ‘Cloisters’. First of all, please talk me through the various layers – and counterpoints – to the glorious title-track? I just love how there is this close dialogue between all these intricate patterns of guitar melodies; like an ode to Reich’s ‘Electric Counterpoint’. Please shed some light on the album title too and the significance?

Charlie Coxedge: The title came after thinking about various structures and spaces. I think I just liked the idea of these hidden / covered spaces, usually around the edges of something else. They can be very reflective places, both in terms of sound and feeling, and I think that suited the music as various ideas can start quietly, then end up bouncing back and forth, and that movement within the space and structure can create more and more new ideas in turn.

The track Cloisters itself came from trying to slow down a bit, and not to over compensate for the lack of different instruments around. I had the title in my head and tried to imagine the various melodies reverberating around these cathedral-like spaces, so just having a clean tone to the music and uncomplicated phrases was important.

Can you discuss the making of the gorgeous music video of ‘Cloisters’ and the process involved? The meditative quality of the visuals matches perfectly the hypnotic guitar passages and the shades, textures and atmosphere created, in turn, heightens both mediums.

CC: All credit for the video must go to Dan Jacobs who did the the video for Money’s Bluebell Fields ( and aside from being a brilliant animator, he also makes music in various projects – glad hand, makeness, aeva). The only idea that he took from me was the slowly fading background colours, which I’m sure he would’ve done anyway! He definitely captured something great that really reflects the track – the way the different shapes and shadows, which seem fixed yet fluid at the same time, create more space, and more spaces in between. The track is called Cloisters, and the video really suggests those different spaces, both hidden and open, obvious and subtle, that we ourselves, as well as our surroundings, create.

Further on from the visuals, can you discuss the visual aspect of your guitar-based compositions and how your compositional approach has developed or evolved over the last few years? 

CC: The compositional approach, for me, is pretty much always about getting a certain feeling out. I suppose by not writing lyrics, the sound and atmosphere of what I’m playing has to evoke something almost immediately to make sure it’s an idea worth pursuing. The music definitely has a visual aspect, it’s hard to put into words exactly, but I suppose with the looped / cyclical nature of the tracks it’s easy to see patterns emerge and evolve.

I wonder have there been any happy accidents or beautiful imperfections so to speak that found its way on the ‘Cloister’ recordings? It feels like you are playing live in a room, is there much overdubs or manipulation done after these takes? Also, I get the sense from just how pristine the guitar sounds radiate throughout that the mixing stage may have been the most time consuming part (of the process)?

CC: There are definitely some happy accidents throughout the EP; creaks of the piano stool, certain sounds that we just found in the studio etc. At the beginning of the track Cloisters you can hear the creaky floor and my feet stepping on the pedals that start the loops going, which we thought would be nice to leave in as, like you said, it adds to the feeling of being in the room, and creating that intimate atmosphere is definitely something I’m always aware of when writing / recording.  The two shorter tracks that end each half of the record (Pentreath and Holly) could both be said to have been happy accidents. Pentreath was written and recorded almost immediately after coming home from my grandfather’s funeral, Pentreath was the name of my grandparents’ house in Cornwall. The track came together very quickly, the guitar was just one take – as you can probably hear it has a kind of improvisatory tone to it, but I really liked it because of that, and I think I managed to capture a feeling without labouring over the track or reworking it too much, which I’ve done in the past. The last track, Holly, was a complete accident really – I was playing the piano at my parents’ house and recording some ideas on my phone when our cat Holly came and sat on the stool with me and just started purring, which the recording picked up. Luckily what I was playing wasn’t terrible, and when heard on headphones is a really warm sound, so I thought it would make a nice last track.

The bulk of the music is all recorded live. The guitars are just me in a room with various loop pedals going to a few different amps, and a few different mics placed around the room, so that we can capture the various tones and blend them together to get the best balance, and make sure the separate layers of the loops can always be heard. The keys/piano are then recorded on top. I have a few go-to synth pads that I always use, but we did spend some time with different synths in the studio, as well as capturing the upright piano, to make sure that imitate, in-the-room feeling is always there. When it came to mixing, because we’d worked on capturing the right tones and sounds in the recording, the mixing was actually fairly straightforward.

The album’s penultimate track ‘Be’ is one of the towering achievements. I would love to gain an insight into the story behind this particular song and how long has the track been forming in your head? The way the piece evolves and forever navigates new dimensions is a joy to savour. 

CC: Be was definitely a track I laboured over and reworked a few times, and the end result is a combination of two or three separate ideas that found themselves working together. Working with loops, normally you record one thing and build on top of it, it’s hard to subtract anything once the loop is going. This track came from having that initial loop fade away underneath the new ideas being recorded, so there is this rolling, evolving feel to it. Eventually, then, it gives way to new ideas that fill the gaps in the older ideas, creating a kind of organised clutter of things bouncing off one another. The initial writing of it came after I saw a remarkable live performance of Music for 18 Musicians, the flow of the whole piece and the transitions between sections was incredible and massively inspiring.

Please discuss the composers and musicians you feel have been the most significant voices for you when it comes to your solo path?

CC: We’ve mentioned Steve Reich already, and his work has been hugely influential, as well as his contemporaries like Philip Glass, Terry Riley etc, to composers like Arvo Part and John Tavener. Film soundtracks are a big inspiration for me too, I loved Alex Somers’ work on Captain Fantastic and Johan Johansson’s soundtrack for Arrival was amazing.

More recently I’ve been listening to Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Luke Howard, Bing & Ruth, (as well as some great music coming from Manchester lately) but I suppose there are artists that I always return to who have been hugely significant to me – Jonny Greenwood/Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens, Bjork, Brian Eno, Elliott Smith amongst others – and then other artists like Nils Frahm and Julianna Barwick have been really inspiring both in terms of the music they make and their approaches to recording, performing, collaborating etc etc.

‘Cloisters’ EP is released via Bella Union on 26th May 2017

To Pre-order ‘Cloisters’ EP:

https://bellaunion.greedbag.com/buy/cloisters-0/

https://www.facebook.com/bellaunionrecs/

https://www.facebook.com/moneybandofficial/

 

 

 

Written by admin

May 3, 2017 at 11:30 am